Interested in keeping more than just chickens in your flock? Here is what you need to know about keeping mixed species in the same flock.
There are many times in a homesteading life you have to look for unique solutions, and many times those solutions include livestock, ruminants, or a bird of some sort.
For example, when we first started homesteading we had a 3-acre area that was getting extremely overgrown and needed cut way back. Without a large budget like most big farmers around us, the options of a tractor and pull-behind mower simply were not there.
However a handful of goats seemed to take care of the issue, and now those weeds have never got overgrown like that again.
Well, just like with the goat and weed situation, poultry and birds can offer many solutions to the homesteader, but what can you keep together? And what, if anything, should you know about a mixed-species flock?
Keeping a mixed-species flock
Recently we were watching Homestead Rescue, and on the show, they said something to the degree of “all birds can be kept together we can just build one coop for everything”.
And while this is mostly true, there are some things that should be known and considered when trying to keep a mixed-species flock.
That being said there are some serious ramifications when you keep a mixed-species flock, all depending of course on WHAT those species are.
Chickens in your flock
Typically when chickens are in your mixed flock you will not have too many problems, at least from the chickens that is. However, chickens tend to be the ones who get picked on by other species. Keeping cornish chickens (you know the big meat hybrid) can be very difficult, as everything that wants to bully, will bully them. Typically though, the most aggressive chickens are simply just the roosters.
Guinea fowl in your flock
Guineas are a great solution to a handful of very specific problems, mainly bugs, or more specifically ticks. So if you have tick problems guineas will clear that problem up. Every year we have a time that seems a fresh “hatch” of ticks has happened and within a few weeks of guineas out and about, the ticks seem to be no more.
However, guineas do have a few downsides when keeping mixed species in the same flock. One of those issues is how much they can pick on, or rather just bully the other birds. Guineas can be brutal and pick on well just about any other bird they set their sights on. Ducks, chickens, and even roosters are a fair game where a few guineas are concerned. Typically around food, they can become very aggressive, but they will also do this in other places as well.
We have one guinea that is an exception to this. One of our guineas does not run with the others, instead, it stays with chickens. I always figured this one must think it is a chicken.
Ducks in a mixed-flock
Ducks can go different ways in a flock, depending on your situation or land. Male ducks also called drakes, can be aggressive and go after other birds, specifically chickens. However, I have not found them to be super aggressive, most of the time.
Ducks really need somewhere they can swim. A small pond or kiddie swimming pool is great. However, ducks can be somewhat possessive over this area.
There are other birds that many homesteaders keep such as quail, geese, and peafowl. None of these can I say from experience. However, you may want to do some research check them out for yourself.
And when looking for new birds for your flock look no further than Cackle Hatchery. When it comes to price and variety they are my absolute favorite.
Pros & Cons of a Mixed Species Flock
When you are a homesteader or just a person who is trying to use everything at their disposal to be as self-reliant as possible, keeping a mixed-species flock can make a lot of sense. However, being aware of both the positive and negative sides of that can help you be more successful with that flock.
Pros of a mixed flock
- same housing
- variety of eggs produced (both for nutritional content and availability in different times throughout the year)
- better pest control (different birds like different bugs)
Cons of the mixed flock
- some types of birds can pick on and bullying others
- fencing considerations
- nutritional needs can vary
- accomodations (ducks needs swimming water)
Keeping a mixed-species flock is totally possible, and yes it has many benefits. We have kept a mixed flock for many years. However, keeping mixed species in the same flock has not been without its own set of frustrations. As with many things when it comes to homesteading keeping a mixed-species flock may just need a little creativity and out-of-the-box thinking. ♡♡♡
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Beth is a mother of 6 living on a handful of acres in an old farmhouse in central Kansas. Beth has a background in the military and health and fitness however her passions come from her homestead life. Beth is an enthusiastic homeschooling mom, avid organic gardener, chicken & goat wrangler, who is obsessed with herbs and natural remedies and maintaining an all-around Do-It-Yourself lifestyle. Beth loves to share all she has learned about and sustainable living. While striving for a healthy, natural life, family-centered life.